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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Superhero > Darkman (HD-DVD)

Darkman (HD-DVD)


Picture: B+     Sound: B+     Extras: D     Film: C+



In the 1940s, Orson Welles wanted to make The Shadow in a feature film, having already played him on radio and Columbia made a half-hearted serial instead.  Before Universal had the rights with another party by 1994, Sam Raimi wanted to bring the forerunner of Batman to life.  Instead, he took that script and converted it into Darkman (1990) giving him the beginning of his new commercially viable era as a filmmaker the studios started to see they could bank on.


Liam Neeson is Dr. Peyton Westlake, creator of a new synthetic skin that could forever revolutionize plastic surgery and much more when his lab is attacked and he is nearly killed.  To get revenge, he takes the formula and begins to assume other identities for revenge on those who must pay.  With parts Batman/Clayface, the Martin Landau Mission: Impossible, the FX films and anything else Raimi can fit in that makes sense, it is a decent romp for its age and what became a franchise with some edge no matter how brief it ran.  Raimi and Spider-Man fans will especially want to see this one and can go a few rounds with the three films (and counting?) in the web series.  Frances McDormand and Larry Drake also star.


The 1080p VC-1 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image is one of the better-looking Universal back catalog titles in the format, though the film’s rough optical printing and other visual effects (though stylistic) have aged the film a bit, but they are not as obnoxious as bad digital effects at their worst.  Bill Pope’s cinematography is a plus, especially when seen as clearly as it is here.  The original theatrical sound was Dolby A-type analog sound, but Raimi made the best of it, while Danny Elfman turned in one of his less predictable scores.  Upgraded to Dolby True HD 5.1, it is pretty decent, with fewer flaws than expected and about as good as this is ever going to sound, though lesser Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 is also includes, but there are no extras.  Next, Raimi is supposed to finally get to do The Shadow as a feature film.  We’ll see how it compares.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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